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Newborn Screening

Newborn screening tests are offered in the first few weeks of a baby’s life. Although most babies are born healthy, a few may have rare problems that can only be picked up after birth. Screening aims to detect health conditions at an early stage when treatment can be offered and is likely to be more effective.

What Screening Tests are Offered?

Hearing Screening

Finding out about hearing loss early is important for a baby’s development and means that support and information can be offered from an early age. It’s very quick and often takes place whilst the baby is asleep.

Blood Spot Test

All newborn babies are offered a bloodspot test which screens for 9 inherited conditions. The midwife pricks the baby’s heel to get a few drops of blood.

The blood is then put onto a card and sent for testing. The blood sample will be tested for the following serious but treatable conditions:

  • Sickle Cell Disease

  • CF (cystic fibrosis)

  • CHT (congenital hypothyroidism)

Inherited metabolic disorders:

  • PKU (phenylketonuria)

  • MCADD (medium-chain acyl-CoA dehydrogenase deficiency)

  • Maple syrup urine disease

  • IVA (isovaleric acidaemia)

  • GA1 (glutaric aciduria type 1)

  • HCU (homocystinuria).


Newborn Physical Examination

In addition to the screening tests, all babies are examined carefully within the first three days of life so that any obvious physical problems can be picked up as soon as possible.

The health professional carrying out the examination will give the results straight away. If a referral for further assessment is needed, this will be discussed at the time of the examination.


When is Screening offered?





Within first 3 days



Newborn physical examination


Around day 5


Newborn Bloodspot test


Birth to 4 weeks


Hearing screen





Health Protection Division
Room 3E
St Andrews House
Regent Road
Edinburgh, EH1 3DG

Tel: +44 (0)131 556 8400

E-mail: screening@gov.scot